DHS casting its nets for cybersecurity experts

Glancing about the room at the great number of RSA Conference attendees that came to hear her speak, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the Department’s great need of cybersecurity experts and informed them of its plan to seek those experts among the talent in the private sector. “This is a huge public interest for our country; we need the best brains to bring to bear on meeting the challenge,” she said.

Making sure that everybody is aware of the crucial factor that could make or brake national cyber defense efforts, she noted that “a secure cyber environment is as much about people and habits and culture as it is about machines”, and that means having talented professionals and common users that know how to sidestep the threats that lurk online.

Echoing Howard Schmidt’s Tuesday keynote, Napolitano called for a collaboration between government, the private sector and citizens. To promote it, she announced a competition organized by the DHS, to which all security experts are invited to participate and share their ideas on how to raise cybersecurity awareness among the greater public.

The winners will be summoned to Washington in May or June, and they will collaborate in the planning and the preparation of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign, which is to be launched in October. The deadline for sending proposals is April 30, and you can find more details about the competition here.

According to InformationWeek, Napolitano also repeated Schmidt’s assurance that the Obama administration is aware of the importance of cybersecurity.

And I’m wondering – could this be one of those rare times when it doesn’t take an event of catastrophic proportions to shake things up and start the ball rolling in the right direction? Only time can tell.